Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger

After the complexities of the Blue Zone, we thought some simple pressure-cooker recipes would make a welcome change of pace*.  Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger is the first of 4 or 5 PC posts (vote with your comments!).   If you don’t own a pressure cooker, no worries, all of the recipes work the old-fashioned way; they just take a little longer.  

People who gladly cook meat or poultry under pressure are often surprised to discover that we bother to cook vegetables the same way.  Root vegetables in particular.  Rule of thumb: the larger the root vegetable the more time you save.  Parsley root, for example, takes less time to cook in a PC than it does to peel.  We use it when we need a meal in a hurry, or because the pressure cooker’s simplicity makes it easy to use it while dealing with other components of larger meal that require our attention.  Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger, for example could be an easy appetizer for 6, or be the quick central player in lunch for 4, with salad and crusty bread (or skip the salad and invite a lovely cheese).

For a long time I stayed away from carrot and ginger soup.  I’d order it, expecting something sensual and a little zany, kind of like early Meg Tilly in a pair of wild bowling shoes, but I disappointment inevitably followed.  People seem to think that just because carrots and ginger go together, the combination ought to stand on its own.  Well, it can’t.   Would it kill people to use a tasty stock?  Jody initially suggested we do a carrot soup, which I greated with a hearty blah.  She countered that this wasn’t any ordinary carrot soup – it was a fennel-carrot soup from Rialto, and my interest perked right back up.  The combination is richly satisfying,  more than a little French in its flavor profile and a lot mysterious to folks unaccustomed to tasting fennel with carrots–what is that flavor?   Enjoy.  Ken 

*For the full dog-and-pony show on pressure cookers, check out  this Chicken Curry from last February.   

Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger-2

Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger


  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 2 cups thinly sliced fennel, reserve the frond for garnish
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks or scallions, white part only
  • 2 cups thinly sliced, peeled carrots (3-4 large carrots)
  • ½ stalk celery, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped ginger
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1¼ cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt


The non PC approach:  If you opt not to use a pressure cooker, follow the instructions to the point of bringing the  ingredients to a boil (Step 2).  Cover the pot three-quarters of the way with the lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.  You may need to add more broth as it will evaporate a bit.  In a pressure cooker the moisture has no place to go.

  1. Melt the butter in a large pressure cooker over medium heat.  Add the fennel, leeks or scallions, carrots, celery, garlic and ginger and cook until the vegetables begins to soften and get a little color, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  
  2. Add the the wine, bring to a boil.  Add fennel seeds, orange juice and stock, bring to a boil, cover with the lid and lock in place.  Cook over high heat until it reaches high pressure, then reduce the heat to very low, just enough to maintain high pressure.  If the pressure drops, increase the heat.  Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes.
  3. Using the quick release method, cool down the pan under running water, and when the pressure is down, remove the lid.
  4. Puree the vegetables into a soup with an immersion blender.  If you like a really fine texture, push through a fine strainer.
  5. Serve in warm bowls topped with a swirl of yogurt and some fennel fronds.

Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger-4-2

Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger-8

Jody Notes:  

We served this at Rialto about 10 years ago and I was happy to discover how well it has aged.  It’s a potage, a common medieval French technique of combining ingredients on hand, usually vegetables, and cooking them all at the same time with some liquid until they form a “mush” (according to Wikipedia).  We did this post during Blizzard Weekend.   After a 2-hour tromp in the snow, I was more than happy to eat a bowl of fragrant homey mush.  

The recipe calls for leeks or scallions.  I’ve always used leeks but by Friday morning supermarket produce shelves were stripped of leeks.  (Who knew that leeks were the allium of choice during snow days?)  In the spirit of a true potage, we used what was on hand, the scallions, and they worked fine.  

Also, we know that some of you are VERY keen-eyed about matching ingredients lists to the photographs, and so may be wondering how I managed to stretch the two large carrots in the photo into 2 cups of sliced carrots.  The secret is, I didn’t.  I ended up adjusting the recipe, doubling the original 1 cup of sliced carrots into 2.   That’s why, despite the photo, you’ll need 3-4 large carrots, as listed in the ingredients.  

Go ahead; click on something to see it with a little more detail.  Left and right arrow keys will move you through the photos.

62 thoughts

    • Hi, Tom–Now THAT’S a gift! We use ours all the time, particularly for soup. I once experimented with using the attachment to chop onions, but Jody wouldn’t talk to me for a week. Enjoy the soup. Ken

    • Tom–Regarding shredding vs. slicing. Depending on your knife skills, slicing is way faster. With a PC, the sliced carrots are fine. If you’re doing the dish without one, I can understand why you’d prefer to shred them. In terms of flavor, I don’t think it would make a difference, as long as they’re cooked through. I’ll check out the yogurt link. Thanks. Ken

  1. Pressure cookers are a wonderful kitchen tool! I’ll never buy canned beans again. We make veggie chili in the PC but haven’t tried much else (other than cooking dried beans), so I’ll give this a go. Funny, I almost bought a fennel bulb yesterday but thought, ‘really, what I am gonna do with this in the next little while?’ Now I will go back and get it.

    • Hi, Dot–Only beans (Jody uses it for beans, I prefer the old-fashioned way)? What about brown rice and wheat berries? We cook a TON of brown rice in ours–and a variety of non-veggie things like stews and chicken based soups. I also understand you can make short work of steel-cut oats in it, but I haven’t tried that yet. Also, in addition to root vegetables, we sometimes do oranges in it for a Pistachio and Blood Orange Torte (http://wp.me/p1t5xh-BC). Regarding what to do with fennel–I used a bulb last night in a fennel and blood orange salad with Parmesan, dressed with evoo, blood orange and lemon juice (Jody says I should have added black olives too). Ken

      • (for some reason I am just reading this…)
        Ken, I’m a lucky lady in that I work from home, and look forward to the breaks that occur when the timer indicates the brown rice and wheat berries are done (45-50 min is just the right time to get up and stretch my legs). But, you had me at blood orange – I was craving something sweetish and that sounds about right – thank you for the suggestion. Years ago I made a pan fried fennel and it was actually quite good. Your salad sounds much more delightful.
        Back to those wontons – they froze perfectly! And they made a quick dinner, too. The amount of cashew sauce was way more than I needed for the wontons, so I found other things to do with it. A quick pasta sauce for one. And we thinned it down with some coconut milk and poached (?maybe not the right technique I mean?) some hake in it. That was surprisingly delightful. Loving what cashews can do in my life now.

  2. I look forward to reading the Garum Factory each Friday morning and this week’s installment did not disappoint. I love soup and am glad to see the return of some pressure cooker recipes. Fitting, because soup is the anti-pressure meal. Thanks for this soothing source of sustenance.

    • Hi, Alison–Stay tuned there are going to be more PC recipes! I’m so happy we’re helping your Fridays get off to a good start. You’re right about soup, at least in our house. These days we tend to avoid those recipes that begin, “Roast the shells of a dozen lobsters.” Ken

  3. I, for one, look forward to your pressure cooker series. We don’t have one. Truthfully, they’ve always terrified me. But, I am going to overcome that fear and get one. The soup looks great. Fennel, carrot and ginger is a divine combination!

    • The days of exploding pressure cookers have gone the way of the backyard bomb shelter, a quaint, slightly frightening relics of American (culinary) history. They’re safe now. I agree about the fennel-carrot-ginger combo.


      • I know you’re right. It’s just the voice of my grandmother (who actually often used one) ringing in my head. My mother has been offering to buy one as a Christmas present for years now. Next time, I’ll take her up on it.

  4. Hey folks. So, so strange. I did all the chopping and prep for carrot soupThursday night for another recipe. Yes, they are out there. After all the prep I found I did not have any stock and put everything away. On Friday morning I discover a clearly superior recipe from The Garum Factory. Then I changed that recipe, with another recipe from you, of course. I put a dollop of the Cashew Sauce from last week on top of the sour cream, scattered scallions and chopped cashews around it and entered Nirvana. Thanks as always. Be well. Us

    • We want pictures. I like the way our yogurt in our recipe somehow morphed into sour cream in yours. :) The dollop of cashew sauce does sound delicious – and frankly I’ll bet the whole thing was lovely to behold. Our hat’s off to you. (Jody laughed.) Ken

      • Hey Ken. How would you know I took a picture?!? Four of us exchange dinner photos like old people tend to. I just sent it to Jody’s work address as yours was returned. And I did use yogurt. Guess I was more tired than I thought when I wrote. Enjoy the snow…

  5. Hi guys – how are you both? I made this last night – just divine! Thank you so much for posting, it was just what my tastebuds wanted. Not so much unsalted butter over here, so I naturally defaulted to olive oil :) Still delicious and a great use of all the fresh fennel we have in Puglia at the moment. Garnish with the fennel fronds just finishes it perfectly. Ciaaooo!

    • Ali! Did you make in in a pressure cooker? Thanks for the kind words. I follow your wry commentary on FB. We’re fine. We had a chance to see Antonello and Rocco for a few hours last week, which was a treat. I’m only sorry we couldn’t have set up a night for Rocco to cook. I’m sure people would love his food. Right now we’re running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We’re supposed to fly out of Boston tomorrow at 7:30, to make a connecting flight in NYC at 9:30, and the weather man is predicting 3 – 6 inches of snow. Keep your fingers crossed for us. Ken

      • Hi Ken, Lovely to hear from you! I hope you managed ok with the snow. No, I don’t have a pressure cooker unfortunately, but my mother couldn’t live without her’s so maybe one day I will follow in her footsteps. I was sorry to have missed you all in Boston – next time I hope. Stay in touch and keep up the wonderful commentary on here. Ali

  6. This soup sounds like a winner and one I have to try. I haven’t a PC — yet. I’m not buying any more kitchen anythings until I get that room reorganized. Still, I can make this soup the old fashioned way and I’ll be very happy. Thanks for sharing a great reason — and setting a fire under me to get that kitchen set up properly. :)

    • Hi, John–Before you take the plunge you may want to look at a couple of recent articles in the WSJ about PC-ing, both by Katy McLaughlin. The first is a straight-ahead Pressure cooking meets fine cooking piece; the second is a blog post by McLaughlin talking about her experiences with a PC over a three-week period–what works, what doesn’t. You can find the second article here: http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2013/01/21/the-pressure-cooker-diaries/. There’s a link to the first article within her blog post. For the record, we have two PCs (one cooks the beef bourguigon while the other cooks the brown rice). The large PC made by Swiss manufacturer Kuhn Rikon pictured in her blog post is the same as our (large) one. Good luck. Ken

  7. I am excited to try this. I have grown bronze fennel in my garden to attract swallowtail butterflies, but I never found a good use for it in my kitchen. I’m anxious to try this. I’m curious: Is there a brand of immersion blender you prefer. I think I blew the motor out in mind doing a particularly hearty potage.

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  10. It looks so amazing, Ken. Especially the natural color. How come! I usually have fresh fennel salad with little EVOO and salt, pepper… not cook them… however, I must try it soon. I will let you know how comes out! Thanks~

  11. made it again, non pressure cooker, this time with grated fennel/carrots and (inadvertently) amped ginger. Veggies softened much faster, tasted great, quick enough to make after work, too.

    • That’s what we want–food fights! The recipe is easily doubled–we usually make twice as much, especially if it’s part of dinner with guests. Bring out the 5-lb bags of carrots. ken

    • Hi, Charles–I am so sorry. WordPress’s spam filter has an unpredictable way of plucking legitimate comments out of the pile and branding them as spam. I didn’t see your comment until today. In any event, thanks for the kind words. I’m really glad the soup worked for you – and reawakened a love of fennel. Ken

  12. Oh thank you! My niece lives in Italy and I live in Puerto Rico. She shared with me a very similar carrot fennel soup with me. She told me to look it up in the Internet. It has taken me a week to find the right recipe for my weekly soups. I sell soups on Mondays & Thursdays were I live. Right now is nice and cool in the evenings & a bowl of soup and some wholesome bread is on schedule.
    I’m happy I’ve found you!

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